Post Type:post VIAlytics: Golf's Home Field Advantage | Viamedia

Quick: What warm-weather sport in August comes to mind when you think of a “Home Field Advantage”? Baseball, of course.

But, Golf? Yes… Golf!

An analysis of the U.S. PGA Championship — one of the four Major pro golf tournaments — has revealed a distinct and persistent home field advantage. Not the one we normally associate with “rooting for the home team”, but rather a tremendous “hometown” spike in viewing based on where the tournament is held. Our analysis looked at the Golf Channel’s Day One ratings from Rentrak, and we uncovered a remarkable pattern over the past four U.S. PGA Championships, which were held at the following venues:


Playing at the Oak Hill Country Club in the town of Pittsford, New York (a suburb of Rochester), Jason Dufner won his first Major ever with a 2-stroke victory over Jim Furyk, making up for a heart-breaking loss in a 2011 playoff.

Over the prior three U.S. PGA Championships, total viewing in Rochester was just lukewarm, capturing slightly above average total U.S. Ratings in 2010 (107 Index) and 2012 (108 Index), and viewing significantly below the average in 2011 (75 Index). But hometown viewing heated up last summer, with ratings rising dramatically – three times the national average (303 Index).


The Charleston, S.C. area is a hotbed for golfing. For both the 2013 (Rochester) and 2010 (Milwaukee) U.S. PGA Championships, the Charleston TV Market accrued ratings 60% higher than the national average. But that pales in comparison to when the Championship came to the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, sitting snugly off the coast just 20 miles from downtown Charleston.

In a tournament that eventually saw Rory Calhoun pull away from the field, shooting -13 under for all four rounds, the Day One coverage rating for the Golf Channel in Charleston was .86 – an astounding 7 times higher (701 Index) than the national average of just .12!


Although not as dramatic as the Charleston television market, Atlanta has consistently exhibited higher than average ratings for Day One Coverage of the PGA Championship, anywhere from +20% (‘10 & ‘13) to nearly 40% (in ‘12) over the national average.

But when the 2011 U.S. PGA Championship came to Johns Creek, Georgia, just 20 miles or so northeast of Atlanta, the ratings jumped considerably – more than double the national average (220 Index) as then rookie, Keegan Bradley, went on to catch and ultimately defeat Jason Dufner in a playoff for the 93rd PGA Championship.



In 2010, the U.S. PGA Championship travelled well north to the Whistling Straits golf destination in Kohler, Wisconsin which sits right on the cusp of two television markets, Milwaukee and Green Bay-Appleton. And not surprisingly, these markets achieved a level of viewership that far surpassed their subsequent viewing in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

The markets of Milwaukee and Green Bay typically exhibit viewing indices in the neighborhood of their northern counterpart, Rochester, NY (site of the 2013 Tournament). In other words, nothing special. But in 2010, viewing shot up more than 3-fold (321 Index) as the German-born golfer, Martin Kaymer, finished in a two-way tie with Bubba Watson, and then went on to defeat him in a three-hole playoff.



Anticipating the Summer of 2014

After a 14-year hiatus, the PGA Championship returns this summer to the Jack Nicklaus-designed Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, KY. This is a golf club that is actually owned by the PGA in a market with normally very high viewing skews. With Louisville hosting the 96th U.S. PGA Championship August 7th – 10th, we could see some of the hottest golf ratings ever.

Now that’s a home field advantage!


Source: Viamedia analysis of Rentrak ratings data for The Golf Channel subject to qualifications available upon request. For 2013, the ratings are from Thursday (8/8/13); 240 minutes, starting at 9am. For 2012, the ratings are from Thursday (8/9/12); 240 minutes, starting at 9am. For 2011, the ratings are from Thursday (8/11/11); 240 minutes, starting at 9am. For 2010, the ratings are from Thursday (8/12/10); 180 minutes, starting at 10am.


  Jonathan Sims
  Vice President Media Research, Viamedia